Moderate alcohol intake and cardiovascular diseases

Salim Yusuf

Is moderate alcohol intake permitted in patients with cardiovascular diseases?

Salim Yusuf: I would not recommend alcohol as a protective risk factor, although a small amount of alcohol may either have a neutral effect or slightly protective effect on heart disease. However, increasingly there are data that even small amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of cancers. So today the balance is either neutral on small amounts of alcohol or even slightly harmful, because heart disease risk has come down anyway, from less smoking, lowering blood pressure, lowering lipids.

But heavy levels of alcohol consumption are uniformly bad. It increases the risk of heart disease and strokes, it increases the risk of cancers, and obviously accidents, injuries, suicides. So I would not ever recommend alcohol as a strategy to improve health. Having said that, a modest amount along with meals is a good social thing and if it is neutral but makes people happy, that is fine.

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